12th Dec, 2019

Healthcare campaigners hit out at Coventry and Warwickshire CCG merger as cost-cutting

Laura Kearns 24th May, 2019 Updated: 29th May, 2019

PLANS to merge healthcare organisations which oversee GP surgeries have been slammed as cost-cutting.

Governors for the three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across Coventry and Warwickshire have agreed to join forces.

It means Coventry and Rugby, South Warwickshire and Warwickshire North CCGs – which commission healthcare for the population – will all operate under one partnership if GP members give plans the green light.

Governors say merging would improve the health and wellbeing of the population and help deliver the NHS’ Long Term Plan – which aims to shape the future of healthcare over the next decade.

It comes after NHS England told the CCG running costs must be cut by 20 per cent by 2021 which the groups say will happen through sharing of teams and pooling of resources, not from money used to provide services.

The CCG could not tell The Observer whether jobs would be lost in the process.

A spokesman for the CCGs said: “The governing bodies for the CCGs in Coventry and Warwickshire have agreed that the right direction for developing health commissioning is to merge into a single CCG which covers the entire area.

“As member-led organisations, the final decision on how to proceed rests with our GP practice members and our recommendation will now be taken to them to seek their agreement.”

But campaign group South Warwickshire Keep our NHS Public says the merger had been made for cost-savings as part of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) – which aims to save £267million in five years.

Members also hit out at the lack of consultation and were concerned about a future lack of transparency.

A spokesman said: “NHS England recently required CCGs to make 20 per cent admin savings. This year the NHS plan said it expected the CCGs to merge so as to match the Coventry and Warwickshire STP structure. The STP board doesn’t meet in public nor does it publish any papers.

“The CCG engagement meetings had six participants in Leamington and 15 in Coventry. There is a danger of loss of local voice by merging onto a super-CCG.”

The CCGs say the decision was made by governors of each group and they were also given the option for no change or to keep three groups but with one management structure.

But they say following stakeholder meetings most people thought a merger ‘made sense’.

The spokesman added: “The majority of those involved agreed that a merger between the three CCGs made the most sense, as long as the CCG continued to build strong links with and listen to the voices of those living and working in Coventry, Rugby, South Warwickshire and Warwickshire North.”

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